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Ervinas has been called in to provide our expertise on a number of operational problems. The vast majority of organizational pitfalls are preventable, and others mitigated by having an easily accessible, well-planned and executed operations system.
Employees from a commercial cleaning company were attempting to clean a particularly stubborn mess at the local elementary school. One of the workers mixed incompatible chemicals which resulted in two workers being taken to the hospital. What led to this incident and how could it have been prevented?
Operational evaluation found the company did have a set of SOPs in a notebook binder, SDS was present for all chemicals, and all labeling for OSHA and HAZCOM were met; however, staff had been trained improperly. This high turnover industry had fallen into the trap of senior staff teaching new workers on the job. “Legend Training” occurs when the story about how to do a job is passed down through a line of workers.
With an Interlo custom software system installed, the company initiated mandatory standardized safety training for all new and current employees. In addition, each crew was issued a tablet computer to remotely access their SOPs, SDS sheets and safety training. The company has remained violation-free for the past 4 years.
An electrical company had been contracted to complete a large project at a nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, a new hire was trouble from the beginning. His poor attitude and lack of concern for safety appalled the other workers. Even worse, the new guy received a minor injury weekly and spent many work hours in the on site clinic. Additionally, he would often state that eventually he was going to be forced to file a worker’s comp claim.
One day, the new employee was working on an electrical panel which had been properly locked and tagged as out of use. After repairs were complete, the new worker re-energized the panel without properly inspecting and removing the lockouts, nearly injuring another worker. During the investigation, the employee claimed that he had not been instructed in proper lockout/tagout procedure or the appropriate steps to re-energize the panel.
After review of the training program and procedures related to safety and equipment operation within the Interlo system, it was determined that all required information was available, approved and easily accessible via his mobile phone. An audit was then performed on the new employee’s electronic record which showed not only was the information available, but that the employee had completed all required OSHA multimedia training and exams. He had also read and acknowledged all applicable policies and procedures as well as e-signing all attestations.
The company was able to terminate the employee and a subsequent legal claim of improper termination by the employee was dismissed. In this case, the Interlo software system saved the company innumerable headaches, tens of thousands in potential legal fees and potential negative press exposure.
Ervinas Media has had a long relationship with a Mom & Pop restaurant. We have provided help with menu design, food photos, promotional materials and website/e-commerce management. They are local favorites and over the years had expanded to 5 locations. It’s a family business and all but the last-opened restaurant are directly run by relatives. They pride themselves on great food, excellent customer service and exceptional cleanliness.
Imagine their surprise when the first health department inspection was graded a C+. The restaurant received multiple demerits and barely missed designation as an imminent health hazard. The local newspaper called the new location and a staff member responded inappropriately to their inquiry about the low rating, causing further damage. Mom and Pop reallocated all of their time to correcting the problems at this new location and asked Ervinas Media to meet them there for some routine menu and promotional material updates. Upon hearing of the issues, our staff suggested a consultation with Ervinas’ software consultants.
Mom and Pop had reached their tipping point. They obviously had the knowledge and skills to run a successful business, but were limited by their resources and support. There were no more family members to dedicate to full-time micromanagement of the new restaurant and had no way to ensure ongoing excellence at all of their locations.
Interlo operational software was deployed with a brand new set of SOPs developed specifically with their high standards in mind, including a Spanish version. Workflows for logging temperatures and cleaning procedures were initiated at all locations. And standardized training for safety and food handling was implemented. Custom training was developed to ensure that media inquiries were addressed appropriately and referred to the corporate level by all staff members.
Today, all of their restaurant locations demonstrate consistent “A” ratings from the health department, including their 6th location which opened last summer. The managers and employees love the ease of documenting hourly, daily, weekly and monthly cleaning and sanitation procedures. And retrieval of this information is a breeze – significantly limiting the time they spend with the health inspectors. Mom and Pop can now monitor their operations from any location and have even been able to take a vacation – the first since opening their original location.
A cannabis company utilizing the Interlo custom software system had an employee who became sick while working outside in the summer. The employee experienced Heat Stress. An incident report was filed in the software system, an OSHA injury report generated and was submitted. What led to this incident and how could it have been prevented?
Operational evaluation found the employee had been properly trained and all records were present. OSHA initiated an investigation, came to the site, and requested documentation of the training process and the employee’s training record. All requested documentation was able to be provided while OSHA was still on site, within 10 minutes. OSHA investigation ultimately concluded the company had not violated any standard or requirement and no further action was taken.
Ervinas’ consultants had previously discussed monthly safety campaigns with company managers, but this option was not accepted. After this incident, Heat Stroke Prevention is reviewed each April and other relevant safety topics on a monthly basis. The company has not since received a visit from OSHA.
The hospital supply department decided, along with management, to save money on specialized IV start kits by purchasing each element of the kit separately. The kits cost $7.05 each and the separate elements collectively cost $4.83. In the busy infusion center, the decision makers intuitively knew that $2.22 savings x100 patients weekly = cost savings of over $11,500 per year. Makes sense, right?
Needless to say, the nurses who start these specialized IVs were not very happy with this supply decision. They noted the increased risk for contamination of the sterile field when multiple packages were opened above it. They complained it took them too long to gather the supplies, and often something was forgotten. Sometimes, the nurse had to shout out for a staff member to grab an omitted supply and more than once, the procedure had to be stopped and restarted while with a patient. Although many requests were made to return to the prior kit supply, there was no budging management. The nurses had workflow software available, but hadn’t really used it to analyze what they thought to be true.
The infusion team was able to obtain a single case of 50 specialty IV kits and they decided to gather data via the workflow software system. The workflow was started from the moment they began gathering supplies to the moment the dressing was affixed to the patient’s chest and annotated whether the kit or separate supplies were utilized.
Data analytics comparing 50 IV kits to 50 separate element IV starts showed that using the separate supplies took an average of 6 minutes longer than using a kit. With the nurses earning an average of $40 per hour, x6 minutes per IV start, x100 patients weekly = wage loss of $20,800. Net loss of the new supplies: $9300 annually.
Management finally relented and went back to purchasing the IV kits. Intuition, common sense and experience are subjective measures. Unnecessarily taking a minute or two longer on a frequently repeated process is imperceptible to most people; however, operational software has no opinion and no feelings. It doesn’t play favorites or politics. It simply collects data to allow your company to objectively analyze processes to increase efficiency and profitability.
A property management company was having an increasingly difficult time renting empty apartments and convincing the current residents to stay. At three separate locations, the buildings were in good condition, in safe neighborhoods, all close to shopping. Additional marketing and sales staff were added and this cost, along with the progressive income loss, became a critical financial problem.
Interestingly, it was the marketing director that called Ervinas for help. She was in town to rally the salesforce when an elderly woman came into the rental office. The woman was moving out and had come to turn in her keys. They struck up a conversation and the marketing director learned of the woman’s frustration with maintenance over the years she had lived there. “My closet door came off the track over a year ago and I couldn’t get anyone to fix it. That was the last straw!” The company was focused on selling the apartments, not analyzing why residents were leaving.
After an in-depth collaboration with Ervinas, including interviews with the residents, our evaluation demonstrated the need for appliance replacements as well as a poor reputation for maintenance. Work orders were collected via phone calls and in-office visits and recorded in a carbon paper receipt book. The slips were passed along to the maintenance department and promptly lost or misplaced. There also seemed to be a lack of maintenance equipment, with more than one story eluding to theft. In addition, energy consumption was significantly greater than expected.
We implemented a phased approach to course correction in conjunction with the sales and marketing departments. Interlo custom software was deployed complete with maintenance SOPs, appliance and equipment manuals, training template library and maintenance equipment check in/out with QR codes. In addition, we added a maintenance button to the company’s website home page where residents or staff initiated workflows, which were sent electronically to the maintenance departments. Residents could then log in and see the status of their request so they knew if it was acknowledged, in process, on hold for parts, or completed.
A comprehensive business plan with financial projections helped the owners to obtain a loan to use for maintenance, energy efficient upgrades and new appliances and these were installed over a two year time period. Within this time, the empty apartments filled and the current residents were thrilled with the service they received. Rents were gradually raised and through attrition, the property management company was able to reduce their salesforce.
In this case, management wasn’t clear where the problem arose. The people working at the apartment complexes and the property managers were dedicated and hard-working. They were just working within a system that wasn’t built for success. As communication improved between staff members and residents, satisfaction levels rose and the apartment complex gained a better reputation. As an added benefit, retention of maintenance employees also increased. They appreciate having vital information about equipment, appliances, purchase orders and maintenance requests all at their fingertips, no matter where they are.
*Ervinas respects the privacy of ALL clients. These case scenarios are an amalgamation of events encountered over time. The industries and/or incidents have been altered to protect privacy and are presented for illustrative purposes only.